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$12.5 million lost on poker machines

WITH more than $12.5 million lost in Byron Shire poker machines a year, the council has moved to open dialogue with local venues about divesting machines.

The notice of motion was brought to the Byron Shire Council general meeting by councillor Paul Spooner, after the Beach Hotel made the decision to remove their remaining machines earlier this year.

"I wasn't thinking much about (poker machines) until the Beach Hotel removed them... it opened my eyes to certain things," Cr Spooner said.

He said in the time it took to hold the meeting, another $34,246 would be lost to poker machines in the Byron Shire.

"That's a massive amount of money that is being lost in these machines on a daily basis, given we've 429 machines currently licensed."

Cr Spooner said while poker machines provide an income stream, it was clearly a negative one.

"I would think a business model based on people's addiction, is a bad one," Cr Spooner said.

Alex Andrews from the Impact Investment Group said gambling addiction was a global issue, however with local government support they could begin to tackle it.

"It's hidden, that's often how the addiction is treated as well and we don't even have real information of how deeply this addiction affects our community because not everyone comes forward," Ms Anderson said.

"It is really important that we look at that and understand how these machines are designed to take people into a hypnotic state where they are not even conscious of their decision making.

"This is not something they are engaging with willingly its triggering pathways of addiction and it's simply for profit."

The council voted unanimously to write to the Beach Hotel praising their actions and to all remaining poker venues encouraging them to pursue a similar strategy.

"This is an amazing step from the Byron Shire Council to actually take a look at how this if affecting our community," Ms Andrews said.

"There other councils around the country who have taken the opportunity to conduct similar reviews and I think this is a shire that leads the way and pokies is an area we really need to be looking at."



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